The NFL playoffs are around the corner, but before the postseason could kickoff there were a handful of head coaches who were let go on the inevitable Black Monday around the league.
The Denver Broncos, Minnesota Vikings, Chicago Bears, Miami Dolphins and New York Giants all made decisions on their head coaches. There still could be more changes made once the dust from the postseason settles, though it’s unlikely.
NFL teams will have to make calls on head coaches, and for some general managers, ahead of the upcoming offseason. Here’s a list ranking the best job openings right now.
7). New York Giants
The Giants being last on the list doesn’t necessarily mean the roster is bad. If a ball bounces a certain way in 2021, New York may not have been 4-13. The next head coach and general manager will have a lot of salary-cap money tied to veteran players along with decisions on whether to extend Saquon Barkley or pick up Daniel Jones’ fifth-year option.
According to Pro Football Focus, the Giants owe $10 million or more to Logan Ryan, Blake Martinez, Sterling Shepard, Adoree’ Jackson, James Bradberry, Kenny Golladay and Leonard Williams. New York won’t have a lot of money to maneuver until some players are gone in a few years.
Whoever comes in next may have to deal with a struggling team for a while.
6). Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jaguars showed some promise in their Week 18 upset win over the Indianapolis Colts. The team has their franchise quarterback along with a defense that finished toward the bottom of the league in key categories.
With the No. 1 pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, there’s always hope the team could build upon its three wins during the 2021 season. Darrell Bevell was the interim head coach for Urban Meyer, and it’s unclear whether he’ll be back next season.
It is possible to go from worst to first in their division, just look at what the Cincinnati Bengals did over the last year.
5). Denver Broncos
The Broncos may not have everything figured out but proved this season to have enough talent on both sides of the ball to stay in contention for the playoffs. Denver sputtered after starting 3-0 but only won four games after that.
Denver’s rookie running back Javonte Williams came on strong late in the season and the emergence of Tim Patrick earned him a contract extension. The Broncos also finished third in points allowed and eighth in yards allowed, even after trading Von Miller.
Whoever is the coach next will definitely have a talented team that looks like it will be competitive in the AFC West for years to come.
4). Chicago Bears
Chicago is in a good position moving forward. The Bears have their leader on offense in quarterback Justin Fields and on defense in pass-rusher Khalil Mack. It’s everything else that needs to come together. A forward-thinking head coach could really help the team and things could open up even more for the Bears and every other team in the NFC North should Aaron Rodgers leave the Green Bay Packers.
Louis Riddick, a former NFL player and front office executive, said on “The Dan Patrick Show” the organization needs to rebuild from just below the ownership level down.
“I think the issue in Chicago will be, how do they revamp the front office? Do they revamp the front office, starting from like the level right below ownership on down. And how and do they stock it with football people? Let me just put it this way: people who really do understand what coaches need to be successful and what front offices need to be successful,” he said. “Do they do that if they can? If they do that, I think everybody will be lining up at the door to try and get that job.”
3). Minnesota Vikings
The Vikings have a lot in place already – quarterback, running back and wide receiver. Those three positions are solid enough to make the Vikings a playoff contender. The defense is what’s certainly lacking.
Under Mike Zimmer, the team was a top 10 defense from 2015 to 2019 and because of that they made the playoffs. But in 2021, the team was 24th in points allowed and 30th in yards allowed.
A new head coach could slide in seamlessly but it’s changes with the defense that are a priority for the team moving forward.
2). Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins’ firing of Brian Flores was one of the more shocking moves of the week. Miami finished the season winning eight out of their last nine games and nearly made the playoffs. If it wasn’t for a handful of close losses, there may be a different narrative in South Florida.
An apparent discrepancy between Flores and the front office led to the dismissal.
Miami has a young quarterback in Tua Tagovailoa and a young wide receiver in Jaylen Waddle along with a defense that has proven to be a terror on opposing offenses.
The next coach will lead a competitive team with young players to develop. It’s a good starting point to stay competitive in the AFC East.
1). Las Vegas Raiders
Of all the teams on this list, the Raiders are the only ones in the playoffs. It may be enough for Las Vegas to remove the interim tag off Rich Bisaccia going into the 2022 season.
Las Vegas finished the season 10-7 even with the Jon Gruden email scandal, Henry Ruggs III’s deadly crash and other drama. Las Vegas could’ve folded and called it a season, but didn’t.
The team is loaded with talent and if the organization parts ways with Bisaccia it’s likely the opening will be highly sought after.